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Kagan formally sworn in as Supreme Court justice

Kagan becomes the 112th U.S. justice, replacing John Paul Stevens.

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By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 1, 2010; 3:28 PM

Elena Kagan joined her Supreme Court colleagues Friday as the nation's 112th justice after a short, traditional ceremony witnessed by President Obama and three former members of the court.

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Obama, who made Kagan his second appointment to the court, sat next to the man she replaced, John Paul Stevens. Next to Stevens were former justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David H. Souter.

Obama broke tradition at the State of the Union address earlier this year by criticizing the court's 5-4 decision in the campaign finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Obama met with the current and former justices before and after the ceremony, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told him in the courtroom, "You're always welcome here."

Kagan was first sworn in Aug. 7, just after her Senate confirmation, so that she could begin work. But wearing a black judicial robe for the first time in public, a white scarf around her neck, the 50-year-old former solicitor general repeated the oath in front of White House officials, court officers and a courtroom filled with invited friends.

Roberts led her through the traditional judicial oath, as she promised to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich."

The same ceremony was performed just over a year ago with Obama's first nominee to the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

After the session in the courtroom, the chief justice and Kagan took off their robes and made the traditional walk down the court's grand marble steps. Roberts wore a red tie and Kagan a bright blue jacket as they posed for photographs on the windy plaza beneath a clear sky.

Asked by a photographer whether she was ready for the court's opening day of the term Monday, Kagan replied, "All set."


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